Published by: eXtasy Books
Word Count :43831
Publication Date :2019-10-18
Series : Storyteller#6
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-2549-4
To understand history, you must first relive it…
Look, but don’t touch…
Combine an ancient tome, a potion, and a mage, and what do you get? A journey back in time, and the secret dream of every historian ever born. Of course there is the usual catch, the well-known non-interference clause. But what price is too high to gain the greatest perspective on past events?
The First Reign. Witness the construction of the citadel and the reign of the first mages—Sethwyn, Glinrea, and Wystan. Learn of their battle against the evil bastard vampire, Elusivar, who wrought a terror indelibly etched into the pages of history.
The Second Reign. Humans have gone mad with science. A family of three face cruel scientists who perform unholy experiments on them. After they’re free from tyranny, they begin to develop powers and the three—Justinus, Saberine, and Leandra—form a triumvirate, the Second Reign. But much like the Roman triumvirate of ancient times, this one, too, may be doomed to failure due to overweening hubris.
Uncovering the Past. Does the opportunity to be a silent witness come with a price? What part does 001 have to play in what is going on? Will understanding the past give insight into a better future?
Tick tock, the beating clock… time waits for no man…
His finger tapped on the desk as he eyed the bookshelves thoughtfully. He stood, walked to one shelf, and ran his hand across the many-colored bindings before pulling a large blue book from its place. He returned to the chair. After gently laying it on the desk, he carefully opened it. “This is a copy of The Old Writings. Although not the true book, it’ll provide some information for you.”
“I thought you knew all of it,” I blurted.
Dodger grinned. “I do, but this is proof.”
“How do I know you didn’t write it yourself?”
He slid the book toward me, then sat back. “You really are a skeptic.”
“Yes, but I’ve been after this information for years. It’s kind of hard for me to accept that it’s right there in that book.”
“I understand. I’ll tell it like a story without taking you into it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Elves are wonderful storytellers because their voices are soft and melodic. If you recall when I told the story of Ghost and Shadow, you closed your eyes and found yourself wondering if you were really there or if it was a dream when I finished.”
“True. It felt so real. That was a neat trick.”
“It was no trick. It’s an innate ability of elves from long ago to mesmerize people into believing our stories are their reality as we tell it.”
“How do you plan on telling me this information if I’m not to be a part of it?”
“I have a friend who’s one of the oldest living beings on this planet.” He seemed to be searching for the appropriate word. “This individual will help me explain things.”
My interest was piqued. “When do I meet this person?”
“I’ll forewarn you, although ancient and young—”
I laughed. “Now that’s a contradiction.”
“Perhaps, but you’ll understand in time. This person knows as much as I do, both about the past and present. Please don’t be shocked by what you see or hear.” He reached up, turned on the computer, and turned the monitor to where I could see it. “001, this is Dodger. I have someone I’d like you to meet.”
I gasped. “You’re talking to the machine from your story?”
“To most people, 001 is a computer. To Shadow, he was a precious friend. To me, 001 is my family. Give the so-called mainframe a chance, and you’ll see what I mean.”
“Hello, Father,” answered an electronically enhanced voice as the words flashed across the screen. “Am I interrupting?”
I stood, nearly knocking over my chair, and hurriedly backed away from the desk, staring at it in disbelief. “It talks.”
“I more than talk,” the computer voiced. “Father, when did we go back to the concept of thinking I am a machine?”
“We didn’t.” Dodger gently patted the monitor. “001 has feelings just like you and I.”
“I am just as alive as the next person,” the computer retorted. “I may not have blood and I certainly do not breathe air, but I have power running through my wires, and my circuits are my brain.”
I stared at the monitor. “It hears what I say?”
“I hear everything. Ghost equipped me with a voice enhancer, Shadow gave me my initial voice com, and Father equipped this room with a connecting intercom link,” the system stated.
“Wow,” I gasped in awe, slowly sitting on the edge of my chair. “What else can you do?”
001 sighed. “What else would you like me to do?”
I looked at him.
Dodger leaned forward and rested his chin on his clasped hands, his crystal blue eyes sparkling with amusement. “It’s your call.”
“I can have any information I want?”
001 responded, “I will make it simple for you and familiarize you with the logs in my memory banks.”
I listened intently, scribbling notes as the machine briefly described the diary logs. It seemed as though everything began on November 26, 2021. I had already heard about the programmer, the computer I was now listening to, the violent storm, the destruction of the planet, the new homo sapiens, and the creation of the device supplying food and water.
001 continued explaining well past the year three-thousand and became silent.
“I don’t know what to say,” I answered softly. “There’s so much I never knew.”
“There’s much no one knows.” Dodger smiled warmly. “Would you like a copy of what you just heard?”
“You’re joking.” I laughed half-heartily.
“Done,” the electronic voice responded, activating the printer.
Within minutes, Dodger handed me a printout. “I believe this is yours.”
I accepted the rather large composition and scanned the pages. “Thank you.”
001 placed a smiling face on the monitor. “Think nothing of it.”
“Call it a gift.” Dodger stood and moved to the window, with his back to me. “Would you like a second gift?”
I looked up. “Like what?”
He pivoted and locked my gaze. “A second look.”
I was startled. “Meaning?”
“If I take you back the usual way, it’s just a fascinating story. You’ll have an insider’s viewpoint but won’t know everything because you’ll be watching. However, I can mentally link to you and show you what only I have seen. You’ll be able to know, hear, feel, see, and understand why things happened the way they did. In a sense, you’ll be part of the story.”
I frowned. “Is that possible?”
“If you’re willing, yes. Without your consent, it’d kill you.” Dodger smiled sadly. “It’s only dangerous to the sleeper, but I’d be with you. No one would know we’re there, and we can’t change anything, either.”
I was uncertain. “What’s a sleeper?”
“You’ll be the sleeper. I’ll give you a potion and, once you’re sleeping soundly, your mind will be open to me. We’ll maintain contact and travel back in time to the desired era. Contact between us will be as it is now, but our physical bodies will remain here when the spell begins. It’s your decision and at your own risk.”
I swallowed. “Can I think about it?”
Dodger turned back to the window. “I won’t allow you to take a risk you’ve had no time to think about. If you choose to go through with it, be here tomorrow night after dinner.” Without another word, he closed the drapes and left the room.
“He would never let anything happen to you,” 001 assured.
I looked at the monitor. “Is it as dangerous as he says?”
“Probably more so,” the computer answered.
I wanted a predictable outcome. “Should I do it?”
“If I really wanted to know what happened, I would. Goodnight, friend.”
I heard the system whine briefly, then it became silent. “I guess goodnight means shutting down.” I put my scribbled notepad into my pocket.
“It does,” Dodger answered from the doorway.
I gasped. “You’ve got a bad habit of sneaking up on people, don’t you?”
“I’m real good at what I enjoy.”
“Other than telling stories in taverns, what exactly do you do?”
“Did do is more like it. Ghost once phrased our employment status as innovative, artistic, professional, individual, issue fixers. AKA, assassins, or paid cutthroats for those who are objectionable.” He smirked.
With a tight grip on the printout, I backed up several feet. “You really are a hit man.”
Dodger slowly moved forward and eyed me. “That’s the same reaction we got from Shadow.”
I swallowed. “And she lived, right?”
“Of course she did. After she earned our trust.” He swiftly closed the gap between us, stopping just inches from me. He towered over me like death itself, his gaze commanding mine. “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.”
I stumbled over the words. “I-I think I’ve b-been pretty good.”
Dodger walked to the door. “I know. I had 001 run a check on you.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “So why the scare tactic?”
“Double-checking. If you’re ready to leave, I’ll escort you to the door.” He led me back to the entrance, then opened the sliding glass door. “Go back the way we came and leave through the front parking lot. It’ll amuse you to see where the bar really is. I’ll see you in about twenty hours.”
“I’ll be here.” I stepped into the night air, slowly walking toward the gate. I heard the door close, glanced over my shoulder, and saw the porch light go dark. I pulled my coat tighter and clutched the printout. “What a weird night.”
“It can get more bizarre before it’s over,” answered a strangely familiar voice.
“Dodger, is that you?” As my echo quickly died, silence filled the air again.